Li, Pennetta to meet in quarterfinals at Australian Open
Li Na of China follows through on a shot to Ekaterina Makarova of Russia during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP / Rick Rycroft)
John Pye, The Associated Press
Published Saturday, January 18, 2014 10:51PM EST
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Two-time finalist Li Na wrapped up a fourth-round win over No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova in less than an hour Sunday to set up a quarterfinal against Flavia Pennetta at the Australian Open.
The 2011 French Open champion broke Makarova's serve five times and fended off four break points on her own serve during a 59-minute, 6-2, 6-0 win to reach the quarterfinals here for the fourth time in five years.
Pennetta's late-career revival continued as she reached her first Australian Open quarterfinal with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 win over ninth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany.
The 28th-seeded Pennetta has played some of her best tennis since returning last February from a wrist injury that caused her ranking to drop as low as No. 166.
Li and Pennetta both turn 32 next month, one day apart.
"You know what, at least she is one day older than me. So I will play an older player," Li, who had back-to-back wins over the two youngest players in the tournament tin the first two rounds, joked in an on-court interview. "Not like couple rounds (before), always younger than me. Nobody talked about the age."
Pennetta reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open last year and has followed that by reaching her first quarterfinal at Melbourne Park in 11 appearances.
"I'm a little old so I'm starting to enjoy (tennis) more," she said. "When you are young you want to win so much."
Pennetta broke Kerber to take a 5-3 lead in the third set but tightened up as she was serving for the match, giving the break right back. She recovered, however, to take a 6-5 lead and then broke Kerber to close out the match.
Five-time champion Serena Williams was facing former No. 1-ranked Ana Ivanovic in fourth-round match on Rod Laver Arena later Sunday.
After setting a record for most match wins at the Australian Open with her 61st this week, Williams will better another mark Sunday by playing her 70th match at Melbourne Park, topping Lindsay Davenport's former record of 69.
On the men's side, three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic was set to take on Italian Fabio Fognini for a place in the quarterfinals.
Djokovic is attempting to make his 19th consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam -- the third-longest streak in the Open era after Roger Federer's 36 and Jimmy Connors' 27.